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Sunday, October 24, 2004

Karzai is clear winner in Afghan election

From today's Washington Post

"President Hamid Karzai has won a majority of votes in Afghanistan's election, clinching a five-year term and becoming the country's first democratically elected president, according to preliminary results released Sunday.

With 94.3 percent of the votes counted, Karzai was winning 55.3 percent, or 4.2 million, of the votes cast, enough to avoid a runoff, the Joint Electoral Management Body reported. Any showing of less than 50 percent would have required a runoff between the top two vote-getters, according to the Afghan constitution. Even if all the votes that are currently uncounted went to his rivals, Karzai would still win a majority. An official announcement may be made later this week...

Tallying the votes from the Oct. 9 election has been a painstakingly slow process, as election officials said workers needed to become accustomed to the new experience of examining ballots, discerning voter intentions and counting the estimated 8 million votes cast...

The elections body had initially set Oct. 30 as the target date for finishing the vote count and announcing a decision.

While the election was relatively peaceful, despite vows by remnants of the ousted Taliban rulers to disrupt it, the counting was marred Saturday by a suicide bombing on a busy shop-lined street in Kabul that is typically frequented by foreigners. An attacker dressed as a beggar and wearing a string of six grenades detonated the explosives just after 3 p.m., killing himself, a 12-year-old Afghan girl and an American woman, identified as a 23-year-old translator and former Army reservist who lives in Uzbekistan and was visiting Kabul. Apparently three of the grenades exploded, Afghan and foreign officials said.

A purported Taliban spokesman asserted responsibility for the attack in a satellite telephone interview with Reuters in Kabul. Three Icelandic members of the International Security Assistance Force on patrol in the capital were injured in the attack, two slightly and one more seriously. The injuries were reported not to be life-threatening."

Full story here.


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